, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 375–391 | Cite as

Effects of twice-ambient carbon dioxide and nitrogen amendment on biomass, nutrient contents and carbon costs of Norway spruce seedlings as influenced by mycorrhization with Piloderma croceum and Tomentellopsis submollis

  • Rosemarie Barbara Weigt
  • Stefan Raidl
  • Rita Verma
  • Hermann Rodenkirchen
  • Axel Göttlein
  • Reinhard Agerer
Original Paper


Elevated tropospheric CO2 concentrations may increase plant carbon fixation. In ectomycorrhizal trees, a considerable portion of the synthesized carbohydrates can be used to support the mutualistic fungal root partner which in turn can benefit the tree by increased nutrient supply. In this study, Norway spruce seedlings were inoculated with either Piloderma croceum (medium distance “fringe” exploration type) or Tomentellopsis submollis (medium distance “smooth” exploration type). We studied the impact of either species regarding fungal biomass production, seedling biomass, nutrient status and nutrient use efficiency in rhizotrons under ambient and twice-ambient CO2 concentrations. A subset was amended with ammonium nitrate to prevent nitrogen imbalances expected under growth promotion by elevated CO2. The two fungal species exhibited considerably different influences on growth, biomass allocation as well as nutrient uptake of spruce seedlings. P. croceum increased nutrient supply and promoted plant growth more strongly than T. submollis despite considerably higher carbon costs. In contrast, seedlings with T. submollis showed higher nutrient use efficiency, i.e. produced plant biomass per received unit of nutrient, particularly for P, K and Mg, thereby promoting shoot growth and reducing the root/shoot ratio. Under the given low soil nutrient availability, P. croceum proved to be a more favourable fungal partner for seedling development than T. submollis. Additionally, plant internal allocation of nutrients was differently influenced by the two ECM fungal species, particularly evident for P in shoots and for Ca in roots. Despite slightly increased ECM length and biomass production, neither of the two species had increased its capacity of nutrient uptake in proportion to the rise of CO2. This lead to imbalances in nutritional status with reduced nutrient concentrations, particularly in seedlings with P. croceum. The beneficial effect of P. croceum thus diminished, although the nutrient status of its host plants was still above that of plants with T. submollis. We conclude that the imbalances of nutrient status in response to elevated CO2 at early stages of plant development are likely to prove particularly severe at nutrient-poor soils as the increased growth of ECM cannot cover the enhanced nutrient demand. Hyphal length and biomass per unit of ectomycorrhizal length as determined for the first time for P. croceum amounted to 6.9 m cm−1 and 6.0 μg cm−1, respectively, across all treatments.


Elevated CO2 Ectomycorrhiza Mycelium Fungal biomass Nitrogen Phosphate Potassium Magnesium Calcium Macronutrients Micronutients Nutrient use efficiency Rhizotrons Piloderma croceum Tomentellopsis submollis Picea abies 



This work was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the interdisciplinary research program “SFB 607—Growth and Parasite Defense” (sub-projects B7 and B10). We appreciate very much the help provided by our technicians E. Marksteiner and C. Bubenzer-Hange. The Department of Environmental Engineering at the German Research Center for Environmental Health is kindly acknowledged for providing the greenhouse facilities.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosemarie Barbara Weigt
    • 1
  • Stefan Raidl
    • 1
  • Rita Verma
    • 1
  • Hermann Rodenkirchen
    • 2
  • Axel Göttlein
    • 2
  • Reinhard Agerer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology I and GeoBio-Center (LMU), Division of Organismic Biology: MycologyLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Forest Nutrition and Water ResourcesTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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